For instance, someone who always buys cheap products that will have a higher cost in the long run due to inadequate quality. Or someone who does not change the oil on his car because "it's expensive".

Note that I'm not talking about someone who cannot afford to change the oil. I'm talking about someone who make decisions that are obviously non-economical, but they are made for economic reasons. Another typical behavior could be refusing to buy insurance.

There's a word in Swedish that describes this: "dumsnål" which roughly translates to stupid (dum) greedy (snål).

However, do note that these people often can be generous. So "greedy" is not really an accurate description.

  • Related: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boots_theory (though this is about affordability)
    – cmbuckley
    Commented Dec 8, 2022 at 14:32
  • 1
    A more fitting word than "greedy" would be "stingy", but this only addresses the buying cheap things part (or just refraining from spending money), without the higher cost in the long run. If you want to sound fancy, you can also use "parsimonious".
    – NotThatGuy
    Commented Dec 8, 2022 at 15:33
  • Please look up economic versus economical. I think you do mean economical. i.e. saving money. The person is tight fisted.
    – Lambie
    Commented Dec 8, 2022 at 18:16

9 Answers 9


We say, Penny wise and Pound foolish, even in the U.S. where we use Dollars ($) instead of Pounds (£). The phrase means that someone is very concerned about where to save a penny but behaves recklessly or ignorantly when larger sums of money are involved.

Imagine a person who drives fifteen miles to get to a gas station that charges $3.25/gallon because the one close to their home charges $3.27/gallon. Also imagine the same person drives a truck that gets 7 miles to the gallon. So they spend about $6.50 on gas to save about 80 cents when they fill up their tank. We might call that person Penny wise and Pound foolish.

  • 1
    Yeah, that's fairly close
    – klutt
    Commented Dec 7, 2022 at 22:40
  • A related idiom (more familiar to me at least) is "save a penny, lose a pound". Not a description of a person in general, but used in reference to a particular decision or course of action.
    – Carcer
    Commented Dec 8, 2022 at 22:20

This person sounds [fiscally/financially] short sighted.


​not thinking carefully about the possible effects of something or what might happen in the future

  • a short-sighted policy
  • an attitude which is likely to prove short-sighted

A synonym here would be myopic

lacking foresight or intellectual insight.

  • "the government still has a myopic attitude to public spending"
  • 1
    Short sighted is part of it, but not the whole story. For instance, drug addicts seems like persons who are typically short sighted. Or someone who prioritize going to the pub instead of paying for insurance. What I'm talking about is actively trying to save money with decisions that are more expensive in the long run.
    – klutt
    Commented Dec 8, 2022 at 13:00
  • 1
    It is short sighted to save money with short term decisions which are more expensive in the long run
    – Wolfie
    Commented Dec 8, 2022 at 13:05
  • 2
    Yes, I'm not arguing about that. I'm just saying that there are ways of being short sighted that does not satisfy what I'm looking for.
    – klutt
    Commented Dec 8, 2022 at 13:41
  • 1
    Understood, that's what I was trying to address with the option of prepending the words fiscally/financially. Added myopic as an alternative, where the Google/OxfordLanguages definition includes a financial example
    – Wolfie
    Commented Dec 8, 2022 at 16:05
  • fiscal is all wrong here. Sorry. Financial is wrong too. It's about not wanting to spend money. Being tight fisted or a penny pincher.
    – Lambie
    Commented Dec 8, 2022 at 18:18

I would go for: miserly or miser

  • Mr Scorge is a miser
  • His miserly great-uncle proved to be worth nearly £1 million
  • She was too miserly to turn the light on.

It is common enought in my expereince as a native British English speaker.

The Oxford Dictionary of English defines it as:

noun: miser; plural noun: misers

a person who hoards wealth and spends as little money as possible.
"a typical miser, he hid his money in the house in various places"

From Wikipedia:

A miser /ˈmaɪzər/ is a person who is reluctant to spend, sometimes to the point of forgoing even basic comforts and some necessities, in order to hoard money or other possessions. Although the word is sometimes used loosely to characterise anyone who is mean with their money, if such behaviour is not accompanied by taking delight in what is saved, it is not properly miserly.

While this isn't defined as always costing more in the long run, it is refusing to spend money to such an extent as to cause suffering.

There are quite a few examples of the words use in stories: Scrooge from A Christmas Carol, Scrooge McDuck, Fraser in the BBC sit-com Dad's Army, the evil uncle in the book Kidnaped: Ebenezer Balfour.

  • 1
    This doesn't suit the question. A miser tries to spend no money at all rather than spends it inappropriately.
    – Chenmunka
    Commented Dec 9, 2022 at 12:44
  • "always buys cheap products that will have a higher cost in the long run due to inadequate quality" - that's just poor. See Vime's Boots. The other two examples, not buying insurance or changing the oil is "in order to hoard money" and "taking delight in what is saved" both of which are calculated risks. Buying shitty boots; you're just a dumbass. - I had a 1989 Astro van last +30y on one or two changes of oil and the only insurance ever on it was liability. Being a miser doesn't mean you're an asshole, but everyone else who doesn't have a spine will think you are.
    – Mazura
    Commented Dec 10, 2022 at 20:16

I like adding the clause ". . . to a fault" to a generally neutral adjective to cast it into a less than favorable light. For example, being "thrifty" is fairly neutral - but if you were to say "Bob is thrifty to a fault - often he will skip required oil changes to save a few dollars" it would suggest Bob is being careful with his money, and perhaps too careful.


I'm not aware of a good single-word match, but for phrases there is also "tripping over dollars to pick up dimes", phrased sometimes as an instruction: "Don't step over dollars to pick up pennies". You might see it in any of these variations:

This, like penny-wise and pound foolish already listed here, describes a person or action as economically-motivated but short-sighted. That said, I might use this phrase to describe someone who is failing to take advantage of greater opportunities rather than a cheapskate or miser (both in other answers here) whose unwise savings have caused them a greater cost.

Google search for "(stepping OR tripping) over dollars to pick up (pennies OR dimes)"


It could be a "cheapskate"

Which is a person who doesn't like to give or spend money. Though it is usually used in reference to someone who doesn't pay their fair share...


I'd use "overstingy" here to bring across the notion of counterproductive parsimoniousness.

If you are into coining new terms, you could try "blightfisted". It evokes "tightfisted" while the paronomasia highlights the negative effect.

  • 2
    Your answer could be improved with additional supporting information. Please edit to add further details, such as citations or documentation, so that others can confirm that your answer is correct. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center.
    – Community Bot
    Commented Dec 11, 2022 at 8:44

The phrase false economy describes the kind of decision that seems to be economical (saving money) if you consider only some costs but end up costing more than it saves, either because of long-run consequences or costs that are overlooked.


Penny pincher

Someone can be called a penny pincher if they always seek the cheapest option or bargains. I think it has negative connotations but it doesn't necessarily indicate the person is stupid or that it will cost them more money in the long run.

It may indicate the person is willing to spend more time or effort to save small amounts of money than others would consider worthwhile. As per the question this usually indicates someone who could afford to spend the money but prefers the cheaper option. "Joe won't pay for the express train, he's too much of a penny pincher. Looks like we won't get there until after midnight.".

  • 2
    Since this doesn't have the connotation of costing more in the long run, I don't think it answers the question. There are lots of terms like this for people who are frugal.
    – Barmar
    Commented Dec 8, 2022 at 17:48

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .